I’m on a mission to install rodent resistant bins at every community garden in my neighbourhood. Last year, we built a wood and wire bin at the Pine Street garden where I am a member. When I recently worked with Mole Hill to set up a community compost, we had the bins custom made by Rand French at Cedar Creek. The cost for the fully installed custom bins wasn’t much more than what we paid for the materials. So, when we needed new bins at the other community garden I belong to, we went for the custom ones. Going the custom route also meant a lot less volunteer hours for the compost committee.
I’ve known Rand since my City Farmer days. Before he began building bins, he visited the garden and asked a lot of questions about bins, what worked, what didn’t. The result is a high quality, esthetically pleasing compost bin, which also scores high on the rodent resistance scale. Rand uses cedar to build single, double or triple units. All are lined top and bottom with 19 gauge 1/2 inch wire mesh. The hardware cloth as it is called, will keep rats out. He can also add a layer of 1/4 inch mesh on request which will keep mice out. But as I always tell people, the best way to ensure that you don’t get rodents is to compost properly. A smelly bin is an open invitation. A rat can chew through cement when properly motivated.
We requested hinged lids with latches so we can lock them off. At community gardens that’s important, not only because you don’t want garden members putting garden trimmings into a bin that is curing, but to prevent well meaning neighbours from dumping their food waste, or the not-so-well-meaning ones who put their doggy doo, bag and all into the bin.
The idea with a three binner is that you start in one bin, after a month move it to the next bin, and after two months move it to the third bin to finish off. But I prefer the less labour intensive method. Just use the first bin until it’s full, then lock it off and start the second bin and so on. Depending on how much material is being generated on site, sometimes the third bin can be used to store dry brown materials. When you’re ready to harvest, the entire front panel comes off for easy access.
Our new bins look beautiful, but by the looks of all those stockpiled greens, don’t think the third bin will be used for leaf storage.